In Review: The Barrier: (S.1 Ep.11) – Alone Together

"Alone Together" picks directly following from last week's episode. Ivan (Nicolas Illoro) and Manuela (Yaima Ramos) turn to Alejo
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Synopsis: “Alone Together” picks directly following from last week’s episode. Ivan (Nicolas Illoro) and Manuela (Yaima Ramos) turn to Alejo (Marcelo Converti), Ivan’s Uncle, Alma’s (Eleonora Wexler) brother. The significance of the episode title plays out, as Alma and Louis (Abel Folk) assess their marriage. Meanwhile Marta (Laura Quiros) is in danger again as Begona (Angela Vega) callsĀ  . . .

Story

“Alone Together” is the perfect title for this episode. Ivan and Manuela are separated, once they get to the medical research compound. It’s unclear how Ivan knows about it, and the location. But that doesn’t really jar too much. The important thing is that when he does arrive, Manuela is in dire need of care. By the way she looks, it seems like she may die soon, without a vaccine. There’s definitely a huge dose of drama in this episode. Very much a race against the cross. In addition, there’s an element of a traditional “star-crossed lovers” to things. Using the concept of members of a different class falling in love helps to really drive the themes of this important show. That’s further bolstered by the difference in the ways that Ivan’s life, and that of Manuela, are measured and viewed.

Another aspect of the story, running alongside the main plot, references the episode title. Luis and Alma have a very emotional conversation. It concerns their children. The impact is felt powerfully, given Ivan’s predicament. As he was so close to Manuela, he too has been infected. Alejo tricks Ivan, giving him an injection that sends him to sleep. Then, he tells Alma where he is. Back at the house, Alma is utterly distraught. She, of course demands that everything be done to save her son, no matter what the cost might be at all.

Hugo (Unax Ugalde) and Sara (Olivia Molina) contemplate their lives over a bottle of smuggled whisky. Their talking of loneliness and love, adds yet another dimension to the episode title. The thematic title is once more well represented, by this fine example.

Marta, Manuela and Fernando’s Fates

The action switches back to the compound. Colonel Enrique (Manu Fullola) is now there. For a specific reason: to kill Manuela. Plot-wise, getting rid of her serves to tidy things up, and also to appease Alma. The latter is vital to Enrique. No matter how evil he is, it’s clear that he loves her. After being distracted by a brave child, hiding, he doesn’t succeed murdering Manuela. She isn’t there when Enrique returns. Also present at the compound is Fernando (Oscar de la Fuente). He’s forced to finally accept the truth, as he discovers his son there, who he has been trying to convince Emilia (Angela Molina) died long ago. Fernando’s role may now be vital.

To save Ivan, Alma orders Alejo to use Marta’s blood, which means having Marta abducted. Again. It’s never less than horrifying to see a child stolen and have needles put in their arms. More use of exploiting social position, by Alma. Rai (is ordered to Pedro Beitia) to take Marta. But it’s Begona who makes it possible, in a deeply chilling scene, where Marta’s innocence is used against her, brutally.

 

Acting

A great week all round, in terms of performances. As discussed, many of the most powerful scenes in “Alone Together” are those with key characters in an exchange. Abel Folk and Eleonora Wexler work together to make their circumstances believable. What’s more, they make some aspects relatable. The sense of emotional drama and depth in the show is owing to that. The same is true of the other main “couple”. Unax Ugalde and Olivia Molina as Hugo and Sara also create a deeply human atmosphere to proceedings. Whilst not together, their shared circumstances give their relationship a unique quality. Each bounces of the other, to make this happen.

There are some important individual moments. Whilst a relatively new character, Fernado really made a big impact this week. Oscar de la Fuente did a fine job, in the scene where he sees his son. Very low-key, but that’s what made it work so well. The controlled delivery.

Laura Quiros was again strong as Marta. As was Daniel Ibanez as Alex, delivering a very rare amusing scene, excellently. The “bad guys” in Manu Fullola as Colonel Enrique and Angela Vega as Begona Sanchez also saw strong outings. Specifically, in Fullola’s scenes.

CGI & Effects

The effects of the virus, red sores on the skin, were incredibly realistic. Furthermore, the make up jobs on Ivan and Manuela meant that they really looked ill in “Alone Together”. Their sallow skin gave them a deathly appearance. Crucially, it wasn’tĀ  too much, or overly theatrical. The balance between gravely ill and dying was superbly caught. Again, more or is less. The effects team know this well.

Another aspect that continues to be so wonderful is the costumes. The close up of Colonel Enrique’s heavy, black boots was a truly menacing shot. It stirred up the sentiment of George Orwell’s 1984, and the permanent trampling of a boot on a human face, forever. These cleverly made shots mean that there’s no need for excessive CGI. This approach is much more visceral and starkly frightening.

Overall

Event wise, a lot to consider. Hugo will be sure to find out Marta’s kidnapping. And the stealing of her blood, too. The other big turning point, related to Marta, was Alma telling Luis about the children. Of course, she didn’t tell him everything, but that her hand was forced was a big deal. It’s hard to see how they will survive as a couple for much longer, now. A hugely important development.

Given the current world-wide health pandemic, seeing the medical equipment in “Alone Together” took on extra resonance. Yes, the virus of the show is much more deadly, but still it’s rare that seeing a virus depicted on screen will genuinely make you think of the world’s current situation. The fear and the dread were palpable, in those scenes. Sci-fi rarely feels this real, which we’re grateful for.

As mentioned, the big theme of the episode was the value of life. Who gets to decide who lives and who dies. This has further relevance to today, right now. Many societies have seen much larger death rates amongst those who are wealthier and live in less populated areas. The virus in the show has simply exposed the gaping divides that were always there. Then, things cracked. What The Barrier does is continue to ask, then grimly reveal, to what extent a government would go to to maintain a rigid social order.

9.2
The Barrier: (S.1 Ep.11) - Alone Together
  • Story
    9.2
  • Acting
    9.3
  • CGI & Effects
    9.1
  • Overall
    9.2
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